The Truth About Hormonal Contraceptives

body literacy fertility menstrual health
Birth control womb medicine
This has been on my mind for a while. I’ve been wanting to clarify my thoughts on hormonal contraceptives and really provide all of you with the facts around one of the most prescribed forms of pharmaceuticals to date! 


Well, the Washington Post came out with an article called “Women are getting off birth control amid misinformation explosion” and it was just the push I needed to get this information together for you.

Not only is the article, ironically, full of misinformation but it took such a beating on social media they turned off the comments section before I could add anything. 

The Truth is, yes, indeed women are waking up to the absolute scam that is hormonal contraceptives, which not only shut down female physiology and have short and long-term side effects (more on those soon) but also poison our water supply, alter fertility rates (for males too) and decrease women’s quality of life. 

Not sure about this? Let’s break it all down.


Hormonal contraceptives first got “approved by the FDA” in 1960. Within a few years time, 1.2 million American women were using what commonly became called the “pill.”


It became a marker of reproductive freedom for women and I cannot downplay the impact that had for women to have more control over their reproductive lives. However, I believe that control, or autonomy, has always been and will always be ours to have. We just have to be willing to claim it and take responsibility for it. I can see that in the age of modern medicine and gynecology, women who had been totally separated from their innate body wisdom and literacy wanted that external tool from an authority figure. 

Well, the first iteration of the pill had large doses of synthetic estrogen and progesterone (progestin is what is found in the pill). This caused a lot of concern about the potential risk of blood clots. The dosage was then lowered significantly. 

There have been various evolutions of hormonal contraceptives, including the nuva-ring which is inserted vaginally, a hormonal IUD and even a “shot” called Depo-Provera that you can get every 3 months to prevent pregnancy. 


Hormonal contraceptives that are taken orally generally fall into 2 categories:  
  1. Combined - contains both synthetic estrogen and progestin 
  2. Progestin only - contains only synthetic progesterone. This is often called the mini pill.


While the mechanism of action might vary slightly depending on the type of hormonal contraceptive used, generally speaking these methods work by shutting down ovulation. The introduction of synthetic hormones (which of course still need to be detoxified by the liver), gives the signal to the brain that ovulation has already occurred. The brain then doesn’t send the signal to the ovaries to develop more follicles, which typically leads to increasing estrogen, ovulation and then increasing progesterone. 

Nope, no need for any of that! Just take this pill every day and then 7 of those 28 pills for your cycle are sugar pills - in other words devoid of any synthetic hormones. This triggers a breakthrough bleeding pattern that mimics a cycle so women can still feel like they are having a regular period and the endometrial lining can shed. 

When we alter female physiology by down-regulating the brain's communication with the ovaries and endogenous (our own) hormone production, there will be consequences. 

When we take synthetic hormones orally or otherwise, there will be potential side effects (short and long term).


Here are the common risks from using hormonal contraceptives: 
  • Increased risk of blood clots (for estrogen containing contraceptives)
  • Increased risk of gallbladder disease 
  • Decreased vitamin B levels 
  • Increased rates of anxiety and depression
  • Altered gut microbiome
  • Increased risk of cervical dysplasia 


Here are some common side effects from using hormonal contraceptives:
  • Headaches 
  • Breakthrough bleeding or spotting
  • Change in mood 
  • Change in libido
  • Vaginal yeast infections 
  • Nausea or digestive changes 
  • Breast tenderness 


PMIDs for the research oriented: 33969435, 22464408, 36244525, 18513406


According to most doctors though, don’t worry, if you just stick with it these side effects usually go away within 2-3 months time. (hint of sarcasm here).


Let’s circle back to the cost of using exogenous hormones and that is that we shut down the brilliance of female physiology. We need exposure to our own estrogen and progesterone production to thrive. Having regular, ovulatory cycles has so many benefits, including:

  • Optimal brain functioning 
  • Healthy muscles, tissues and joints
  • A repaired and robust nervous system 
  • A rich blood supply to the pelvic organs 
  • A balanced and present libido 


That’s really what I’m here for.


According to the Washington Post article, women like myself who support other women to come off birth control and live their lives free of menstrual pain and symptoms are part of  

“an entire industry has popped up around regulating hormones that experts say is often a cash grab.”

Or better yet, we're just “influencers of all political stripes seeking fame and fortune on the internet”

No and nope. The good news is that I don’t source the value of my work from what I read online and neither should you! 


Using hormonal birth control has become some twisted modern initiation for young women. I did it for a short time too! Fortunately, I’m a quick learner and trust when the body says no.


If you want to learn about a non-hormonal way to own your fertility, increase body literacy and prevent pregnancy check out my blog post on the Fertility Awareness Method

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